25 Skills You Can Trade After SHTF
When people talk about trading after the apocalypse, usually they start discussing whether you’re better off stockpiling extra ammunition or some surplus food. These are both great trade assets – for a while. Eventually they’ll run out, though, and then what? The guy who’s been bringing you fresh eggs every day isn’t going to keep doing it when you’ve run out of shells for his 12-gauge. Trading surplus supplies might be essential from time to time, but it’s never going to be a long-term solution because, in the end, your supplies will be gone.
How about gold and silver? Some preppers have a touching belief that they’ll be highly prized after society falls apart. I’m not so sure. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be too keen to trade a handful of rifle bullets or a sack of flour for something that’s basically just going to sit around looking shiny.
No, if you want a real trade asset, you can’t beat skills. Once you’ve learned a skill you have an inexhaustible supply of it. If you fixed someone’s generator today in exchange for a bag of apples from his tree, you can get more apples by fixing it again tomorrow. Years from now you can still be fixing his generator every time it goes wrong, and trading your time for his surplus fruit (unless he decides you’re either not so good at fixing generators or a bit too fond of his apples). Skills won’t run out, and in a prolonged emergency that makes them far more valuable for trade than anything else.
Here are 25 skills that are going to be in demand if we’re all thrown back on our own resources. Some of them will be valuable right away; others will kick in when hoarded goods start running out. Learning all 25 of them is probably beyond most of us, but if you get pretty good at three or four you should be able to barter your work for anything you need after the apocalypse.
1.Vehicle maintenanceBeing able to keep cars on the road is going to be a vital skill. With society in disarray, most regular workshops will be closed. If you have a reputation as someone who can keep engines running that’s going to be a valuable skill – and you’ll be able to fix generators and pumps, too.
Related: Top 10 Vehicles for Your EMP Survival
2. ElectricsIf the power grid stays down for a while people are going to start looking for alternative sources of electricity. It might be a solar array, generator or wind turbine – in any case, it’s going to need wired up. That can be difficult and even dangerous. If you know how to adapt and extend house wiring, people will pay for that skill.
3. ElectronicsIf people have electricity they’re going to want gadgets that use it – but eventually they’re going to go wrong. You probably aren’t going to be able to make a new microprocessor, but some basic soldering skills can fix a surprising number of faulty appliances. Their owners will be pleased.
4. PlumbingWhen plumbing goes wrong things can get pretty unpleasant in a hurry. That’s why everyone’s immediate reaction is to call a plumber. But what if the world as we know it has ended, and the plumber isn’t answering the phone? If you can help people out with that, they’ll be glad to help you out in some other way.
5. MedicineLife is dangerous when society collapses; disease and injury will be more common, and the consequences of not treating them are more severe. Any medical assistance you can give, from basic first aid to advanced surgical skills, will make you a valuable asset to the community.
Related:Prepping to Power Medical Equipment When SHTF
6. Amateur radioMost of the communications we rely on aren’t going to survive a major social collapse. Without people to run its infrastructure, cell phones and the internet will go down in minutes. Landline phones – the ones that haven’t switched to VOIP – might last hours or even a couple of days. If you have the skills to use radios, especially CB or ham radio, that’s going to be a skill lots of people will want access to.
7. Mending clothesNowadays, if our clothes get damaged we just throw them away and buy new ones. Our ancestors, even a couple of generations ago, fixed them instead. If you can repair rips, replace broken zippers and even make alterations for size, you’re not likely to run out of customers willing to trade.
8. ForagingThere’s a lot of food out there if you know what to look for, in the form of edible fruits, berries, leaves, fungi and other plants. The problem is, if you don’t know what to look for you can get in a lot of trouble. Mistaking a death cap for a mushroom is a mistake you’ll only make once. If you have the right skills you can either teach them to others, or trade part of what you collect.
Related: Edible and Non-edible Mushrooms you Find in Forests
9. HuntingNot everyone has the skills or equipment to harvest their own meat. If you do, you have a valuable source of food that you can trade for other things you need.
10. FishingIf you’re elderly or infirm, and can’t do more physical jobs, you can still build up a tradeable food surplus with a fishing pole and some bait.
11. Crop growingNot too long ago most families had their own vegetable garden. That’s a skill most of us have lost. If you still have it, it’s a valuable asset. Grow more than you need and trade the surplus, or look after people’s plots for them in exchange for a share of the crop.
12. Animal husbandrySome livestock is a valuable asset, but it takes skill to keep it alive and productive. If you’re good at looking animals you can help out people who don’t have your experience. The most efficient way to do this is to keep their animals with your own and give them their share of the milk, meat or other products.
Related: Top 9 Animals to Raise in a Post Apocalypse World
13. ButcheryYes, this is the part of keeping livestock many people hate. It’s easy to buy Percy the pig as an investment in your future self-sufficiency, but a lot harder to whack him on the head with a hammer and chop him up. If you can do that for them, they’ll be happy to reward you with a few choice cuts.
14. CanningA lot of people will manage to find or grow food, with or without your help, but won’t have the skills they need to store it safely. If you’re a canning expert you can make yourself useful by processing their surplus so they can build up stockpiles for the winter – maybe by trading your skills for a share of their crop.
Related: 7 Deadly Canning Mistakes Even Smart People Make
15. CarpentryIt’s amazing what you can make with some timber, a few basic tools – and a bit of talent at woodworking. A good carpenter can put together anything from a storage box to a serviceable timber frame home. In other words, lots of things people will need and be happy to trade for.
16. BlacksmithingThis is a really rare skill nowadays, but it’s going to be in huge demand if the economy implodes. There are still a lot of horses round, and they need shoes – but a good smith can make a lot more than horseshoes.
17. GunsmithingWeapons are going to be essential when the SHTF – but they’re complex things, and sometimes they go wrong. Any good shooter can clear a stoppage, but what about repairing a broken trigger mechanism or re-crowning a barrel? Gunsmithing skills are pretty rare – and very valuable.
18. ReloadingThere’s a lot of ammunition in the USA, but it won’t last forever. When stocks start to run low a lot of people will be willing to trade for more. If they can bring you their spent brass, and have it remanufactured into ammunition, that’s a very valuable skill to have.
19. FletchingIn a sustained collapse, stocks of modern weapons and ammunition will eventually be gone. To help them last as long as possible, and replace them when they’re exhausted, bows make a viable hunting – and even defensive – weapon. If you can make arrows you’ll find plenty of people willing to trade for them.
20. Soap makingDid you remember to stockpile a large supply of soap? Probably not, but that doesn’t matter – you know how to make it, using lye and any handy fats. Do you think everyone else in the neighborhood remembered to stockpile soap? Unlikely, but never mind. They can trade with you for the surplus you made.
21. Candle makingA year or two into a major collapse electric light will be a lot less common than it is now. Help your neighbors keep the darkness at bay by trading home-made candles. They’re a lot brighter – and safer – than a crude oil lamp.
22. LeatherworkingIf you know how to make things from leather, you’ll never be short of work. Everything from shoe repairs to making new tack for horses will be in demand.
23. TeachingCivilization might have collapsed, but you can help rebuild it by passing on the knowledge the next generation will need. You don’t have to be a qualified teacher, but if you have knowledge and the enthusiasm to pass it on you can turn that to your advantage.
24. Playing an instrumentNo matter how bad things get, people need entertainment. In fact, when it’s really bad entertainment is more valuable than ever. If you can play a musical instrument you can do a lot to boost morale, and human nature means people will want to show their gratitude.
25. Spiritual comfortIf you’re good at choosing an uplifting piece of scripture, or making an inspirational speech, that can be a valuable skill. It might not be essential to life, but it can make people feel a lot happier about their situation. In a major emergency death is a real possibility, for example, and if you can give someone a proper send-off their loved ones will cope better.
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8 Obvious-But-Overlooked Ways Our Grandparents Survived Tough TimesHard times are nothing new. They have come and gone throughout the centuries, and people have dealt with difficulties as best they can.
Amid catastrophic weather, crop failures, job loss and personal injuries—all of which often lead to economic disaster—our ancestors made it through some of the worst of times. Here are a few money-saving tips our grandparents might give us for getting through hard times.
1. Work harder. It might seem laughably obvious at first glance, but hard work really is the answer to a lot of struggles. If you have a job, ramp up your efforts. If you do not have a job, make it your full-time endeavor to look for one. Either way, consider devoting some of your free time to per diem work such as raking leaves and shoveling roofs and walking dogs. Money is out there, just waiting for you to earn it.
2. Tighten your belt. This is another tip that is so obvious that it can be overlooked. Meals out, new clothes, new vehicles, furniture, accessories for both the home and for personal use, and many other luxuries which people routinely purchase can be forgone during hard times. If it isn’t truly necessary, you can do without it until your cash flow improves.
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3. Limit entertainment. If you are spending your time working hard, you will have less time and energy for entertainment. And tightening your belt means saying no thanks to things like cable television, the latest electronic gadget, a hobby upgrade such as a new cycle or camera or snowmobile, or a vacation trip. This is not to suggest it is healthy to go without entertainment and leisure for a lifetime, but focusing instead on work and thriftiness for a period of time to get you over a rough patch is wise.
4. Buy second-hand. Even if your livelihood requires that you dress in brand names and drive a nice car, you can still do it wisely by purchasing pre-owned. Consider shopping at thrift shops, online resale outlets, and social media buy/sell groups, not only in lean spells but also in times of plenty. It is a great way to support local businesses and help out your friends and neighbors who may need the cash your purchase brings in.
5. Have a yard sale. Selling your unnecessary goods can kill two birds with one stone. Not only will you scoop up a little cash from the sale, but you will help declutter your home and garage in the process. Having things clean and organized can be energizing, which helps you stay focused and get other things done.
6. Fix items instead of replacing them. In this world of disposable everything, it feels almost automatic to toss stuff in the trash and go buy another one. But in our grandparents’ youth, goods were thrown out less and repaired more. Consider having jacket zippers replaced at a repair shop instead of buying a whole new garment, or sewing on buttons and stitching up seams yourself. Glue broken knickknacks, tighten window blind strings, and don’t be afraid to tinker with tools and equipment to get them back into smooth running condition. Buy parts and replace them yourself or pay a professional—which is still less costly than buying new.
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7. Grow your own food. Backyard gardening is never completely free, but it is always a better value in the long run than buying less healthy and more chemical-laden foods in the store. During hard times, even a few patio pots filled with tomatoes and summer squash can ease up a straining budget, and a couple of laying hens can make a real difference.
8. Shop wisely. If chicken is on sale, buy chicken. Even if that was not what you had in mind for your current menu or if it comes in packages bigger than you need, you can always repackage and freeze it for later. Buy seasonal items on clearance and store them for next year. Buy in bulk for items you use a lot. Avoid brand names when it does not make a difference, and use coupons for the brand names you prefer when it does matter.
By following these few simple tips all the time, you will be able to build money-saving habits so that when hard times come around, you will be better prepared. It may be possible to become so skilled at pinching pennies that your practices will either help deflect economic difficulties in the first place or will help you glide right through them with barely a hiccup in your routine. Either way, engaging in money-saving behavior is always a win-win.
Long term cooking over a campfire and what you need to prep for it.
Cooking in a long term survival situation, is a whole lot different from cooking on an overnight campout. Then, there are the people who say my bug out location has a fireplace and that is all I need. While cooking in a fireplace or wood-burning stove in the winter is great because it will help keep it warm so there is a dual benefit. The trouble comes in when summer arrives and you need to keep your bugout location cool rather than hot. What will you do then? The answer to that question is that you move the cooking outside.
Simply building a campfire is not enough, especially if you are feeding several people. You need to be able to heat several things at one time and at different temperatures. If you haven’t planned ahead for this then you may find yourself in a bind. First off, your wife’s favorite skillet with its Copper or Teflon coating won’t last long on an open campfire. You will need something that can handle the high temperatures that a campfire can produce. For this, you need cast iron pots and pans.
Dutch Ovens made of cast iron are the longtime favorite of campfire cooks and make no mistake about it; campfire cooking is as much a learned skill as cooking is. It takes practice and lots of it. I have burned more than my share of eggs by trying to cook them on a campfire, and that is an easy one.
So what makes campfire cooking so hard? The answer is controlling the heat. Unlike your electric or gas stove, there is no knob to turn it up or down. Get it too hot and you either burn or under cook your food. Too cold and it will take forever to finish cooking and could still be raw in the middle. Are you starting to get the picture yet?
The easiest way to help solve this is to have a campfire setup, with iron pipes and grates which allow you to control how close to the fire your pot is. Using this method and with a little experience, you will learn to control the cooking temperature of your food on a campfire. Now don’t get me wrong, it still takes a lot of practice and you will no doubt burn yourself a few times during the process. It’s almost like a rite of passage. Put something on the burn and keep cooking.
You are not going to cook everything in pots, however, so it’s good to have a spit that you can use like a rotisserie for cooking chickens on and other wild game. Cast iron pipe makes the best spits, and will hold up long after others have worn out. Just remember, when you are looking at what you need for cooking on a campfire, everything has to be built strong if it is going to last.
Something else to consider is that if you are going to cook outside, you need to be prepared for rain. Many people build a covered area with the four sides open for good air flow. This will allow you to cook, even when it’s raining. Some people go so far as blocking off one side and putting in cabinets for their pot and pans and cooking utensils. This can save you many trips back and forth to get things you may have forgotten. Some are elaborate and some are plain, but they are all sure to get a lot of use in a post SHTF world.
I’m going to add a couple of links, at the bottom of this article, to a campfire setup I like, as well as to some Cast Iron cookware you might like. When SHTF hits and you are forced to cook over an open fire, you need to have everything you need to cook with, as well as the skills to do it. Having supplies is useless if you don’t have the skills and tools you need to prepare them. Start today and get the tools you need to cook on a campfire and then get busy practicing. Who knows, you may even learn to enjoy it!
Well, that is it for today and I hope you have enjoyed today’s post. Until next time, stay safe, stay strong, and stay prepared. God Save America!
Prepping for Medical EmergenciesPlanning for medical emergencies is one of the biggest challenges one faces. This is especially true if the situation will occur with limited outside resources on which to rely. There are several things you can do to improve the odds for yourself and your loved ones, including solid medical knowledge, the leadership skills necessary to create a makeshift hospital, and a comprehensive medical stockpile.
EducationMany people underestimate the immense value an education in a practical field like medicine will have in emergency situations. These types of skills can be bartered for goods and services in addition to being beneficial for yourself and those in your party. Training as a nurse or doctor is obviously going to be at the top of any resident wish list. However, any medical training will include basic skills that could be valuable.
Any career in the medical field will pay well and allow you to make interpersonal connections, receive continuing education, and give you access to information earlier than the general public. All of these are important considerations when preparing for an uncertain future. Be sure to keep any textbooks and potentially useful class materials with your supplies to use for reference.
Medicinal foraging and herbalism are other medical skill sets that will be indispensable for the long-term maintenance of medical supplies. There are local courses in most regions that will teach participants to identify plants native to the area and the best places to find those plants with medicinal and nutritional value.
Herbalism studies will teach people to prepare those plants as effective treatments and remedies for a variety of medical concerns. While many natural remedies are not as effective as their modern-day counterparts, they are far more effective than no care at all. The ingredients to prepare them will also be more readily available if modern amenities are unavailable.
Makeshift HospitalOne’s leadership style will play a significant role in how well any makeshift hospital is organized and run, as well as the type of patient outcomes it produces. In times of disaster, everyone looks for one person to take control and make them feel safe. That person will wield substantial power within the community, and knowing how to competently care for others is an excellent starting point.
The list of supplies needed, and the organizational effort required to run a field hospital are immense. Start with basic supplies and build as your training and budget allow. The most important component of successful adaptation will be in the training and implementation of any plans you make. Make an effort to have quarterly or annual preparedness training for everyone who will be working together in the event of a disaster. If everyone knows their role, where supplies are located, and how to handle specific scenarios the real event will go much more smoothly.
Medical StockpileIt is important to have a portable medical kit as well as a more comprehensive stockpile for larger emergencies. The portable kit should contain everything necessary for basic survival. The American Red Cross is a great place to find resources on a personal kit with basic components. The CDC and the WHO have excellent resources for planning on a much larger scale.
Don’t let the larger preparedness options overwhelm you initially. They are only appropriate after personal planning has reached maximum capacity. However, it is a good idea to begin looking ahead to create a plan for those who think they will want to take the initiative for their personal or local communities.
8 Exit Plans for Preppers
This is the type of exit we preppers know all about — bug out locations, bug out vehicles, bug out bags, etc. Here you can read some best tips for selecting a bug out location.
There’s nothing wrong with planning for this type of exit, and hopefully, you have this fairly well covered, even if it’s just simply getting out of an unsafe neighborhood, an apartment complex that is going downhill, or moving from one area of a city to one further out along the edges of that city. They are are all examples of exit strategies. That remote cabin in Montana isn’t your only choice and for many, not advisable.
I’m not suggesting that everyone quit their job, but you definitely need to have an exit plan in place — other ways of earning an income. A economic collapse, EMP, massive civil unrest, war, and other devastating events could make it impossible for you to continue with your job. For most of us, no job equals no money. Earlier this year I made the effort to get a license so I could legally work, using skills from a previous trade. I believe everyone should have a backup when it comes to earning money, so get at least one in place (preferably more than one) should everything hit the fan and your job disappears.
Here’s a good combination of streams of income:
- A blue collar trade, such as plumbing, home construction, laying tile, carpet repair, electrical work, etc.
- Learn technical skills, such as coding, website or app design. Sites such as UpWork make it possible for freelancers in computer related skills to work for people all over the world.
- Working the land skills. By raising chickens, goats, and/or bees, you can earn an income selling eggs, milk, honey, and homemade cheese. If you have a growing garden, you can sell it at farmers markets. One urban homesteader we know raises goats and chickens and has a super-productive garden growing on her small city lot. She earns money by delivering what she grows to upper income families who want organic, locally grown produce.
- Whatever job you’re doing now.
If you maintain your current job and income and begin adding other skills, such as the ones I’ve listed, gradually, you may be able to wean yourself off that full-time job, if you want. If you stay with that job, at least you’re developing other income sources — that all-important exit plan.
Besides setting up another income source or two (more is always better), your exit plan could also involve saving money like crazy and having that as a safety net. Funds from retirement and investments and the sale of property might also allow you to exit a job.
In a post-TEOTWAWKI world, your kids won’t be heading out the door to school every day. It will be up to you to homeschool them or join with other families and create a 21st century one room schoolhouse. It might be smart to stock up on school supplies when they’re really cheap (sales in August and September), textbooks (you can find them at used bookstores), books on Kindle (we have hundreds), and maybe even download instructional videos to teach advanced concepts in algebra, chemistry, and writing. The exit plan is either getting your kids out of the public school system now or having the supples to continue with their education if everything collapses. Just one more exit plans for preppers that makes sense.
As I mentioned earlier, savings, retirement money, and investments can all allow you the option of exiting your job, but they also rely entirely on an electronic financial system. The safest way to exit this particular system is to simply not need it anymore.
This exit plan is the trickiest for nearly everyone. Since most of us now do banking online, receive our paychecks via direct deposit, pay our bills online, purchase just about everything with a debit/credit card, then how do you get out of this financial matrix?
It won’t be east, but do whatever is possible. If your employer only pays by direct deposit, then withdraw cash to pay bills and pay them in person. Go back to paying cash for as much as you can. You might want to cash out insurance policies, 501(k) accounts, and investments — taking the tax hit now and figuring that at least you have what’s left of the money. Use that money to buy tangibles, such as property for farming, developing a homestead, food storage, a water catchment system, etc. Not only will this step help you step away from the financial system, but you’ll be developing a more self-reliant lifestyle at the same time.
A severe financial crisis here in the U.S. could usher in capital controls, the government skimming money directly from your account, or certain accounts being frozen. In an economic collapse, your money will disappear overnight, anyway, so you might as well be thinking of what you can do now to preserve the wealth you have.
I’m not a financial advisor — I’m just mentioning this as a possible way to exit financial institutions.
The power grid
I’m convinced that sooner or later, our power grid will falter and fail. Hopefully, that outage wil last for just a few weeks, but between frequent occurrences of sabotage, the ability of multiple nations able to take out our grid via hacking and cyberterrorism, and coronal mass ejections, I’m kind of surprised that we still have a grid!
What ties you to the power grid? Keep track of things like how often you wash dishes, do the laundry, watch TV, listen to music, charge batteries — everything both large and small that requires electricity. Then, take steps to reduce that dependence. You won’t be able to disconnect entirely, but if/when the grid goes down and you have less reliance on it, the better you’ll be able to survive. It’s just one more exit strategy and can be done no matter where you live.
Electronics that can snoop on you
A few weeks ago on one of my job sites, I noticed that the high-tech programmers all had pieces of masking tape over the webcams on their laptop computers. What do they know that you and I don’t? They know how easy it is for some outside entity to watch YOU via the very convenient spyglass you have on your laptop computer. If you have a webcam connected to your desktop computer, it’s vulnerable, too.
I rely on my iPhone for work and, as part of my job, I have no choice but to use it, but I’ve been thinking of how I can exit the electronic matrix and take steps to protect my privacy and that of my family. On Facebook, I’m not even there, except to occasionally post an article on the Preparedness Advice page. I avoid all social media otherwise. I’m careful about my email addresses and my wife recently set up a secure email account for our family at Unseen.is.
I’m not sure it’s possible to disappear from the internet altogether, but you could always try these extreme ideas if you’re interested. At the very least, you’ll make it more difficult for anyone to track you down or harass you via the internet. This is one exit you should begin putting into place now.
Government agencies regularly make decisions based on money and politics, not what is truly in the best interest of American citizens. This often happens with food. You’ve probably heard of the USDA’s insane decision to allow American-raised chickens to be shipped to China and then back here to sell to consumers. Then there was the time the FDA ruled that walnut producers couldn’t make the true and verified claim that their product has certain health benefits.
These same government people look the other way, though, when food producing corporations deceive the public. For example, high fructose corn syrup is now labeled by some companies as “isolated fructose,” in a blatant attempt to fool health conscious consumers — but God forbid that a suburban mom in Colorado purchases a gallon of raw milk. The purchase of marijuana — no problem, but raw milk? Nope. (You can check out your state’s raw milk laws here.)
Most grocery store foods are loaded with dozens of unhealthy ingredients, our population is fatter than ever, in spite of the half-hearted efforts by our government to guilt us into losing weight. It’s almost as if the government WANTS us fat and unehealthy. After all, that same government has, over the years, issued all manner of food “information” that has done absolutely nothing to make us healthier and in many ways, made us fatter and far less healthy than our grandparents.
Fortunately, we can begin to exit this particular matrix by growing as much food as we can, buying meat, eggs, and produce from local farmers, and stocking up on food storage items that are healthy, such as those sold by Thrive Life. Read the labels of the foods that are sitting on your kitchen shelves, and you’ll see what I mean. This is one exit you MUST make for your kid’s and grandkid’s sakes.
Exit the healthcare matrix
Do you have health issues? What can you do to exit our country’s healthcare mess? It’s become too expensive for most of us to afford the “insurance”, much less high deductibles, and cover fees we still have to pay for copays and drugs.
Learn about herbal healthcare. Sam Coffman in San Antonio runs an excellent herbalism course. Learn from someone like him and begin to minimize your dependence on our healthcare system.
Essential oils aren’t just for the ladies. When we diffuse lavender oil at night, I sleep more soundly than I would with an Ambien, and one oil blend, Raven, helps my breathing during allergy season. When my daughter burned her wrist with hot cooking oil, it was lavender oil that helped it heal quickly and with only the tiniest scar. Many essential oils have been proven in lab tests to be effective. There are dozens of brands out there, but we ususually buy Young Living, Sparks Naturals, and I just learned about Rocky Mountain Oils, which we’ll be trying.
Increase your own medical knowledge. Take a first aid class, know CPR, take wilderness first aid. Sign up for an EMT class at a community college. The more training you have in this area, the better off you and your loved ones will be. I have a handful of medical books written for preppers and rely on them — The Survival Doctor’s Complete Handbook, is extremely helpful and written for the non-medical layperson.
Even more exit plans for preppersThink about the bills you pay each month and which ones can be eliminated or greatly decreased. This isn’t just about saving money but by becoming more independent. The water bill you pay each month represents total dependence on another entity for your water. Instead, can you set up a rain catchment system and bury a couple of large water tanks in your backyard? Less reliance in a single step.
What about gift-giving season? Rather than pour money into “the system”, get out of the retail matrix and begin crafting your own gifts — handmade knives, homemade soap, honey from your own bees, jars of canned produce, homeade jams, jellies and your homemade hot sauce, metal work, etc. The retail world is designed to suck you in and then drain you of your money. It’s a pretty easy world to exit, though, if you avoid malls.